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September 30, 2001 -- Part 1  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

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Alive and Well in the Bismarck Public Library

I'm sorry I haven't posted an update in a while, but I've been camping for most of the past month and haven't had much Internet access.  And then when I did get a motel room a while ago to update my website,  Earthlink, my web hoster, was having "technical difficulties" and I couldn't post anything.  Maintaining a website, especially while traveling, is a lot more complicated than I ever imagined but I was finally able to post this update, so if you were waiting for something to read, I've hopefully got enough here to keep you busy for a while.


I've spent the past month in, believe it or not, Bismarck, North Dakota (pop. 49,500), which is the state's capital.  To pronounce it like the locals, you have to say "North Dakoooooda," and then add an "eh?" to the end.  The thick Upper Midwest accent here really cracks me up.  And to think that only a few months ago in Tennessee I was dealing with people who said, "Weer y'all frumm"?  Here it's, "Where ya from, eh?"


I've been doing a lot of family research here in Bismarck, because this was where my Mom (who passed away a couple years ago) grew back in the 1930s, and I wanted to learn about her upbringing.  In fact, both sides of her family lived in North Dakota during the early 1900s so I've spent a lot of time in the wonderful Bismarck Public Library trying to piece together the story of her ancestors.  I've also spent a lot of time in the library getting caught up with my website and have added several new pages and photos  And I've also been busy in the library returning e-mails.  After spending three weeks in the Bismarck Public Library with my laptop, I'm sure the friendly ladies at the desk are starting to wonder about me.


Transmission Problems... and Much Worse

Back in May before I left Portland, I spent $1,200 getting my transmission overhauled at Cottman's Transmission.  Suddenly though, one morning a few weeks ago here in Bismarck, I couldn't shift my truck into reverse.  Fortunately, I had 95 miles left on Cottman's 12,000-mile warranty (doing the math, the warranty was 99.3% expired).  Unfortunately, there's not a Cottman's shop here in Bismarck.  Fortunately, the Cottman's in Portland agreed to pay for it to be fixed by a shop here in Bismarck, Leo's Transmission, which I thought was pretty nice of them (Cottman's, that is, not Leo's).  As a result, I spent about a week in a Bismarck motel waiting for my truck's transmission to get fixed.  


As I was waiting in my motel room, I called up my web-hoster, Earthlink on the morning of September 11 to ask a few questions.  The first thing the guy asked me was if I'd seen the news that morning.  When I said no, he said, "You better turn on your TV.  The World Trade Center has been demolished and the Pentagon's on fire."   After hanging up, I immediately flipped on the T.V. and that's how I learned about the September 11 terrorist attack.  Like everyone else, I was stunned and sat glued to the television for the next several days, hoping that they'd find survivors.  I wasn't in much of a mood to write after that and am still deeply saddened by what happened, which is one reason that I haven't updated my website in a while.  


The people in Bismarck were shocked, of course, by the events just as I'm sure people everywhere in the U.S. were.  A festival in downtown Bismarck went ahead as scheduled on the Saturday after the tragedy, including a parade with lots of bands and floats.  People kept a stiff upper lip and waved their flags during the parade in the cold, cloudy weather, but a lot of folks didn't have their hearts into it and I saw a few tears.  There are a lot of flags waving here now and, more than anger, just a lot of sadness... which describes my attitude as well.


1-6814_Leos_Transmissions.jpg (32014 bytes)    1-6739_Americinn_Room.jpg (31075 bytes)    1-6818_WTC_Tragedy_9-11-01.jpg (42850 bytes)

Above left:  Leo's Transmission in Bismarck, where my truck sat for several days getting fixed. 

Above center:  Catching up with e-mail in my motel room in Bismarck.  This was the day before the tragedy in New York.

Above right:  As I watched the events in New York unfold, I was transfixed and deeply saddened for the next several days, as I'm sure everyone was.


Statistics So Far 

I'll switch gears now (which I can do, thanks to the folks at Leo's Transmission) and post some statistics about my trip so far:


Trip Statistics

  • Days on the road:  115

  • Miles driven:  11,612

  • States visited:  31

  • Flat tires:  1

  • Speeding tickets:  0

  • Photos taken: 7,288

  • Web pages on this website:  Exactly 100

  • Photos on this website:  852

  • Bratwursts consumed:  Countless



Yes, I really have posted 100 pages and 852 photos so far... and I haven't even left for Australia yet.


New Pages

As I mentioned, I've spent a lot of time in the Bismarck Public Library these past few weeks working on my website.  In addition to four News updates, I'm adding several new pages in this round while posting over 200 new photos, each with a caption.  Of course, not everyone will be interested in every page but I've tried to write about enough different things that hopefully everyone who visits my site will find something interesting.


One of the reasons that I'm taking this 18-month trip is to learn about my family's history on both my Mom's and my Dad's side.  I've written a description of their family stories in Summary of My Family's History based on what I've learned so far and what I previously knew.  Some of this might be a little confusing, so I drew a map showing how my father's ancestors moved across America and have included several old photos, shown in My Dad's Ancestors:  Map and Photo Essay.  I also drew a map showing how my mother's ancestors moved across America and have included a lot of old photos, shown in My Mom's Ancestors:  Map and Photo Essay.


No More Del Stripping

Some of you might know that the original name of my website was DelsTrip.com.  However, when I mentioned that name to people in Portland before I left, they thought I said DelStrip


I wanted to assure folks that they won't see any pictures of me stripping, so I purchased the domain name "DelsJourney", which, I think, is a better name anyway.  I'd kept the DelsTrip site though and added a link there to DelsJourney.  Not that anyone was probably checking it, but I recently cancelled my DelStrip site.


Interestingly, I got an e-mail from some company a few months ago wondering if the name DelsTrip.com was for sale.  I told them it was but then they backed out.  I can't help but wonder what they were planning to post there!


Since I love to drive around America, I put together a page called My 20 Favorite Drives in the U.S., though it was hard to narrow down my favorite drives to a list of 20.  This page has 40 photos so it might take a while to download.  Also, I realized that I had never properly introduced my traveling companion, My Toyota Truck, so I went through my old photos and picked out 36 pictures of my truck parked next to various friends over the past 16 years.  You might see yourself there!


As I described in my update from Syracuse (see News: August 8, 2001) there was some confusion about the location of Comanche, the horse ridden by Captain Myles Keogh at Custer's Last Stand in 1876 and the only U.S. Cavalry survivor of that battle.  I recently learned Comanche's whereabouts, which you can read about in The Comanche Mystery Solved.  Custer's home base for several years was Fort Abraham Lincoln, which has also been my base during my month-long stay in Bismarck. 


Since I'm traveling through the upper Midwest now and am tracing my ancestors who homesteaded here, I wrote up a short page on The 1862 Homestead Act and included a little blurb about that Norwegian delicacy, Lutefisk, for those who have never had the pleasure of eating codfish soaked in lye.  Another feature that makes this area unique is its amazingly changeable weather, which I've described in Weather in the Midwest.  And while you're at it, you can find out Why I'm Responsible for the Current Recession.  All of these pages are in my Close-Ups section. 


Now can you see why I've spent a month in Bismarck!  I've done enough writing for a while... now it's time to dig into my family research.


Now!  More Photos and Faster Downloads!

I apologize for some of my earlier News Updates, especially from May and June, since they were filled with a lot of large photos that took years to download.  That was before I learned how to create thumbnail photos. 


I've gone back to all the earlier webpages that had lots of large photos and converted them to thumbnails so those pages will download a lot faster now.  In fact they downloaded so fast that I was able to add some more photos and stories to them.


My goal for this website is to limit the download time of each page to about 45 seconds at 56K.  Of course, I put text at the top of each page so you can start reading while the photos are downloading.  Those of you lucky enough to have DSL or Cable Modem, of course, don't have to worry about it.


Schedule?  What Schedule?

According to my original plans, I was going to leave Portland in June for a 2-month drive around the U.S. then leave for Australia on September 1.  By September 30, which is now, I was supposed to be scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef... but here I am in Bismarck, North Dakota with not a single blonde, bikinied Sheila in sight.  So what happened?


After frantically driving across New Mexico a few months ago so that I could meet my friends in Austin on a certain day, I reached the profound conclusion that, "This sucks."  


That's when I realized that I don't like schedules.  And I also realized that, for the first time in my life, I don't have to be at a certain place at a certain time.  Therefore, I've decided to mosey, spending as much time as I like in one place before moving on.  In fact, I've decided not to move on until I'm darn well ready to. 


This new attitude explains why I spent two weeks in eastern South Dakota recently and why I've spent a month (a month!) in Bismarck.  Hey, the weather's nice here, the campground is cheap, the people are friendly, the fried chicken at Dan's Supermarket is great, and I've got plenty to keep me busy.  So, in the words of Bobby McFerrin, "Don't Hurry, Be Happy" ... or something like that.


I've rearranged my trip Down Under, by the way, to accommodate my delayed arrival there and to better take advantage of the weather.  I'm now planning to visit New Zealand first, from November through January, and then Australia from February through July.  But at the rate I'm currently going, who knows if I'll ever get there!  No, I'll be going down there soon because the days are getting shorter here... which means they're getting longer down there!  And when the days start getting shorter down there, I'll fly up north.  My plan is to spend three summers in a row without having to deal with a winter.


This page is getting pretty long, so I've split it in half and I posted my update at News: September 30, 2001 -- Part 2.  Be sure to check out my fascinating stories there about Midwesterners, hail dent repair, and head lice.




Next News

September 30, 2001 -- Part 2  (Bismarck, North Dakota)



Previous News

September 15, 2001  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

August 30, 2001  (Webster, South Dakota)

August 18, 2001  (Watertown South Dakota)

August 17, 2001  (Walnut Grove, Minnesota)

August 14, 2001  (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

August 10, 2001 (Battle Creek, Michigan)

August 8, 2001  (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 2)

August 8, 2001  (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 1)

August 6, 2001  (Manlius, New York)

July 23, 2001  (Middleton, Massachusetts)

July 22, 2001  (Boston, Massachusetts)

July 20, 2001  (Pomfret, Connecticut)

July 18, 2001  (Denton, Maryland)

July 16, 2001  (Cumberland, Virginia)

July 14, 2001  (Roanoke, Virginia)

July 9, 2001  (Sevierville, Tennessee)

July 8, 2001  (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)

July 5, 2001  (Manchester, Tennessee)

June 30, 2001  (Hohenwald, Tennessee)

June 29, 2001  (Corinth, Mississippi)

June 27, 2001  (Natchez, Mississippi)

June 24, 2001  (Austin, Texas)

June 20, 2001  (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)

June 18, 2001  (Clay Canyon, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 2  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 1  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 14, 2001  (San Diego, California)

June 11, 2001  (San Jose, California)

June 2, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

May 19, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 30, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 19, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

April 5, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)  


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